Robogenesis, by Daniel H Wilson, Simon & Schuster, RRP£20, 365 pages
Robogenesis revisits the near-future world of Wilson’s 2011 novel Robopocalypse, in which a robot uprising all but destroyed humanity and was quelled only after its leader, rogue artificial intelligence Archos R-14, was defeated.
The sequel begins after the end of that “New War” and traces the development of a “True War” instigated by R-8, a precursor of R-14, who is antithetical to all forms of life, synthetic and organic. Told in overlapping first-person narratives, the book reintroduces characters from its predecessor such as war heroes Lark Iron Cloud, Cormac Wallace and part-robot teenager Mathilda Perez, who has artificial eyes.
The narrative lacks the thrust of Robopocalypse and has a tendency to ramble as it traces the characters’ shifting allegiances. The novel is very much the middle part of a trilogy, a bridge to a promised third instalment. Nonetheless, Wilson offers subtle characterisation, writes vivid action scenes, and raises intriguing, provocative questions about soul and sentience.